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Production of biodiesel fuel from the microalga Botryococcus braunii by supercritical transesterification

Grant number: 12/05922-0
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: August 01, 2012 - July 31, 2014
Field of knowledge:Engineering - Chemical Engineering - Chemical Process Industries
Principal Investigator:Rubens Maciel Filho
Grantee:Rubens Maciel Filho
Home Institution: Faculdade de Engenharia Química (FEQ). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Assoc. researchers:Aline Santana Scotelari de Souza ; Edinara Adelaide Boss ; Sergio Santos de Jesus


The intensive use of petroleum sourced fuel contributes significantly for the increase of the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere and it contributes for the climate changes around the world. The objective of recently studies is the attainment of the ecologically viable fuels for diminishing the greenhouse effect. Brazil was one of the pioneers to develop an ecologically viable fuel using sugar cane as raw material. Actually, the bioethanol production and biodiesel process is carried out with vegetable seed, animal fat and sugar cane and this process has being already developed. On the other hand, the production of these fuels in large amounts is not sustainable. The microalgae use for the biodiesel production is presented as a potential source, therefore they are rich in oil, they can carbon dioxide capture and they present a high yield for the cultivated area. The algae oil produced can be turned into biodiesel and these microorganisms possess a high value in their cellular composition. The commercial biodiesel production through algae oil are carried out of transesterification process using alkaline catalyst therefore this catalyst present a formation of undesirable side products, like the saponification products. The advantages of supercritical transesterification over the conventional homogeneous catalytic method are feedstock flexibility, higher production efficiency and it is more environmentally friendly. The reaction is more selectivity and easy separation of the products and the yield is higher than the conventional process. This project has the objective of the optimize transesterification supercritical reaction using the microalgae Botryococcus braunii oil and at varying reaction time, temperature and oil molar ratio. These variables will be evaluated to determine the optimum conditions for biodiesel production. An experimental design will be applied to optimize the transesterification of microalgae oil with supercritical alcohol using the statistic 7.0 sofware. The advantage of this process can be characterized by the reduction of the reaction time, the conventional process are required hours and the supercritical method a few minutes. The innovation of this process is also the microalgae oil use as raw material. (AU)